CHARLESTON — The two former WNBA All-Stars had become helpless as coaches on the sideline when Jordyne Crunk went to the free throw line with nine-tenths of a second remaining and her Eastern Illinois team down by a point.
Crunk had not forgotten that she missed the first of her two free throws with 39 seconds left helping put her Panthers in this predicament.
“I think my teammates had more confidence in me than I did,” Crunk said.
The senior guard must have had enough herself hitting both foul shots lifting Eastern to Thursday’s 81-80 non-conference women’s basketball win over Loyola at Lantz Arena.
This was the first win after three losses for the Panthers and for Debbie Black as a head coach who got the win over her former WNBA foe Sheryl Swoopes coaching Loyola, now 1-3.
“It feels like a monkey is off my back,” Black said. “It’s a game I’ll never forget. As a player I never really beat her so this is nice.”
Calling a timeout with a pass nearly getting away with 3.6 seconds to go, Black first had set up a play for Morgan Palombizio before Swoopes then called her own timeout before the inbounds.
“Jordyne had the hot hand,” Black said. “I said turn and go to the basket as hard as you can and they fouled her.
“You know, Jordyne is our best free-throw shooter and missing that one earlier helped her make these.”
Also with a hot hand was junior forward Sabina Oroszova who scored a collegiate career high 26 points and also had 12 rebounds but fouled out with 1:00 to go.
“It was so crazy,” Oroszova said. “I thought I can shut everything down or help my teammates. I knew Jordyne was the right person on the line.”
Crunk said, “Sabi helped us even when she was on the bench.”
Crunk matched her EIU high with 20 points including nine of 11 free throws and also had six assists in this game that had 12 ties and 17 lead changes.
One of those lead changes came when Troy Hambric hit a post shot giving Loyola an 80-79 lead with 17 seconds left before Crunk came up with her game winning shots.
This game marked the first time Eastern had led in the second half this season.
Oroszova and Palombizio hit back-to-back 3-pointers from each win and then Taryn Olson’s free throw had the Panthers ahead 46-42 with 16:26 remaining.
Loyola regained the lead but then with the 30-second shot clock about to expire, Katlyn Payne got off a crowed 3-point shot that swished while she was knocked to the floor. The junior added the free throw for a four-point play and Eastern was on top again 52-50 with 13:57 to play.
Instead of that being a momentum changer, Loyola scored the next six points.
But perhaps no one had any momentum after officials took several minutes watching a television replay monitor first to determine Loyola’s Taylor Johnson had not committed a flagrant foul and then to determine Jordyne Crunk was EIU’s free-throw shooter.
The long delay did not bother Crunk, who converted both foul shots before Amisha Thomas’ basket tied the game again.
After trailing 27-16 with 8:36 left in the first half, Eastern rallied for its first halftime lead of the season at 37-36.
Swoopes made her presence known to officials early in the game when calmly pointing to the scoreboard showing her Loyola team had been called for its seventh foul with 15:47 left in the first half while the host Panthers had been called for just one.
On Loyola’s next two trips down the court Eastern was called for fouls and six of the next eight were called against the Panthers.
But the Ramblers’ Troy Hambric, who brought a 10.7 rebounding average into the game was called for her third foul with nine minutes still to play in the first half.
That may have helped the Panthers in a 13-2 run in which Oroszova tied the game with two free throws, Katlyn Payne put EIU ahead with a basket inside and Oroszova made two more free throws for a 35-31 Eastern lead.
Eastern is to play host to Western Illinois in the Panthers’ annual Kids Day on Monday with a noon tip-off at Lantz.
Player FG FT Reb F TP
Crosby 2-3 2-2 4 4 6
Hambric 6-8 0-0 7 3 12
Beavers 0-2 0-0 3 5 10
Johnson 8-15 5-6 6 5 21
Karopulos 3-11 7-7 3 3 13
Law 1-6 6-7 2 2 8
Faught 2-4 0-0 0 0 6
Thomas 2-4 0-0 0 2 5
Smith 3-5 3-4 5 2 9
Totals 27-58 23-26 32 26 80
EASTERN ILLINOIS (1-3)
Player FG FT Reb F TP
Oroszova 9-17 6-7 12 5 26
Palombizio 3-7 3-4 0 2 11
Olson 1-3 1-2 4 3 3
Payne 4-7 3-6 2 1 13
Crunk 5-10 9-11 2 4 20
Danos 1-1 0-0 2 0 2
Thomas 3-7 0-1 4 3 6
Willis 0-0 0-0 0 2 0
Totals 26-52 22-31 32 20 81
Loyola 36 44 — 80
Eastern 37 44 — 81
3-point shots: Loyola 3-12 ; Eastern 7-10 (Oroszova 2-2, Palombizio 2-2, Payne 2-5, Crunk 1-1). Assists: Loyola 13 (Beavers 7); Eastern 16 (Crunk 6). Turnovers: Loyola 14; Eastern 16.
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